I have been inspired throughout my life. When I have been interviewed, one question pops up quite often, who has inspired you the most, like clockwork I would say my mum. I am not often asked why my mum inspires me. As we approach International Women’s Day I thought I would use this opportunity to give the why.
My mum was born in Trinidad and Tobago, she was the oldest of 7 children. As her father was unwell a lot of the time and her mother worked, she took care of her siblings. In fact she had to give up going to school to take care of her siblings. She cooked, cleaned and gave emotional support to her family. Although she was unable to go to school, she educated herself by reading books, engaging in enlightening conversation. She did however, go to college years later to study and did very well.
When she met my dad she was young. They married and had five children, to say it was challenging times for her would be an understatement. Women did not have the same rights as men, her rights as a women was further being impeded by being black. She once told me of a time when she worked in a make-up factory and went to the toilet to freshen up, 2 white ladies looked at her rather strangely. My mother was curious as to why they looked at her so intently, one of the ladies commented, oh we were looking for your tail! This was one of many stories my mum told me.
As a working mother with five children she had to give up her life for us. There was no time for luxuries, any money she had, went towards caring for us and keeping the home looking magnificent. You would never see dust particle anywhere in our house. Food was always made from scratch and she even made clothes for us.
What I loved and still love about my mum is her kindness. She is always supportive of others. We had a lady who lived on our street who was disabled, she would always ask us to check on her and go and do her shopping. The lady in question was a nice lady, sometimes she would give us money to buy sweets for doing her shopping for her.
My mum spent most of her life in service of others. She took care of a family friend who was dying of cancer, she often went and cooked for family members who were ill. She encourage me to support others and to be kind and thoughtful.
We were a family that was brought together by faith and music. My father loved records and my mum loved dancing. When I started to play steel band and drums my mum encourage me when others felt that it was not proper. Playing the piano would have been seem more becoming, I did play piano for a while but didn’t like it.
In my darkest hours, I always had my mum with me and she would say things like “don’t worry, God is love” whilst she gave me a massive hug. She would also have those razor sharp conversation that would open your eye to things. I had that talk about having to work harder because I was black, not to be beholden to anyone, think for yourself. There were, and still are, so many pearls of wisdom.
Did my mum have adversity? Yes, but she handled it with grace. She has such inner strength even Samson would be in awe. It takes a special kind of women to have raised five children, go to work, run a home and support others. My mum chose to challenge the stereotype of a women. She made herself heard when that was unfashionable, she provided us with knowledge and understanding and she challenged racists and maintained her dignity. As a black women, she shines like an angel, giving support to other black women to rise and be heard. I can’t count the amount of times young black ladies who had come into contact with my mum, would says, I wish she was my mum. I am so pleased she is mine.
I am very proud of what I have learn’t from my mother. Having a strong character, integrity and warm heart are attributes to be proud of.